Barakei is an erotic and morbid fable that is well known due to its provocative allusion to Mishima’s homosexuality and the despair of an immensly erudite author who refused the decline of his country and of his body. Barakei is incontestably Eikoh Hosoe’s masterpiece.
In Barakei, Mishima, always stripped bare, is alternatively captured in the kitschy gold setting of his home in Tokyo and in Hijikata’s deserted dance studio. The other shots pay tribute to his love for European Renaissance painting, and, in particular his very sensual iconography of the martyr Saint Sebastian.
Following on from his meet-up with the charismatic theatre creator Butoh Tatsumi Hijikata, Hosoe became known from 1961 for his superbly crafted book – Man and Woman – which transcends the boundaries of erotic art through its graphic over dramatization. Then, in 1963, Hosoe created the album Barakei – Killed by Roses with Yukio Mishima which put the scandalous author in the spotlight and lifted the photographer to immediate international notoriety.
Image credits from top to bottom:
© Eikoh HOSOE, Ordeal by Roses (from top to bottom #05, #32, #06) 1961, Ordeal by Roses, platinum-palladium printed at Hosoe’s studio in Karuitzawa in three series in 1988.
Exhibition view by Rebecca Fanuele.